This customer got me fuming...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by nlminc, Feb 4, 2001.

  1. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Posts: 1,671

    I just hung up the phone with a customer that I have had for 3 yrs. He calls to tell me he was going thru some bills (mine sent out in Dec. for a job completed on 11/20)and he has a problem with my fall clean-up fee. He is already more than 60 days out on paying the invoice and he has the balls to call and complain about a service I did at his request 2.5 months ago!
    On 11/20 my employee and I completed a fall clean-up that consisted of cleaning out the planting beds and cutting the lawn to at 2". We used a Walker and a truck vac, backpack blowers. The house is surrounded by 100-150' white pine trees that covered his property with needles. When we were done we even cleaned the road off (corner house) because pine needles had gathered and packed on the road surrounding his property. That job took us 2 hrs. and a half truck full of debri to be taken to the dump. We had to cut the lawn 2x. I charged him $280.00 for the job.
    Anyway, he was calling to ***** about the price and doesn't understand why he should have to pay more than maybe the cost of 2 mowings ($45.00/Mowing). On top of that he said he plans on making 2 payments to pay me in full! Now this is a customer that lives in the 2nd or 3rd weathiest town in the state! His house is a castle overlooking the water.

    Sorry this is so long, just wanted to vent about this guy. I'm not taking him back this year after the BS I just put up with. Do you think I'm being unrealistic? Do any of you have wealthy customers who pull this partial/late payment bull?

    Chris
     
  2. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    However you get the money at this point is great. Maybe he is having money problems. Just because you have an expensive house doesn't mean you never have problems and his ego may not let him explain that to you. If he pays you regularly, then before you do a leaf job next year agree on the price up front.
     
  3. LoneStarLawn

    LoneStarLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,415

    We never do a job without giving a customer an estimate on how much it will cost. This would avoid the "shock" factor after the completion of the job.
     
  4. Guest
    Posts: 0

    payment in full is 280 dont accept or cash anything less its a legal thing tell him your lawyer advised you not to...now, send a bill containing a self adrressed stamped envelop, on the bill list equipment used and everything done go into details you can even put the price of gas if you want to drive it home to him say payment in full requested at280
     
  5. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 675

    How is the account the rest of the time? How has it been the last three years? If this is first problem, then I would not throw the account away. If the guy is a pain in the behind all the time, then I would dump him after I got paid full.

    But, it sounds like you had not done this sort of work for him before. Maybe he just needs to get use to fall cleanup charges. Next year he will have a idea what it will cost him.

    Something I have learned with dealing with people, is that sometimes they do not know how to handle themselves when dicussing problems. He might have been embarrassed that he could not pay the entire bill in full and in his own way of dealing with it, he had to complain alittle.

    I just had a account send me a check for about 1/3 the actual amount owed for snow removal. When I called to see what was up, which I had already figured right, I was told that "We did not realize it was going to be so much". "We will pay it since I agreed to it, but this is just crazy" If I would have left it there, I would have taken the conversation as a complaint, but I knew the real deal. We had several snows early in December, not very normal for our area, and the costs plus last lawn and landscape maintenance bill were too much for this GM's monthly budget. He was worried about his hide.

    Later in the conversation, he confirmed this and thanked me for understanding about stretching the amount into next month for which we had no snow, to his luck. Now he understands why I wanted no more than a 10 month contract payment plan on the lawn and landscape maintenance when his old boss wanted 12. This keeps the snow removals in those out months making it easier on their budget.

    It all comes down to communication. There are some you just cannot reach, but the ones you try to and actually do, are the ones that think you are the lawn care super hero and your prices are worth every dollar.
     
  6. Chip

    Chip LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    Chris was 2 hrs your total time on this job? What is your dumping expense? Was time to dump included in this job? Give more details please and you may get more responses to this post.
     
  7. OBRYANMAINT

    OBRYANMAINT LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 555

    just because he has a big house does not mean he has money...just a goos credit line....have a wealthy type town near me and many houses have empty rooms because they spent it all on their cars and empty houses.................communicate like was recommended and look at his payment history and make your call off of that i would not drop him if at all possible........then sometimes you must do it
     
  8. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Posts: 1,671

    Chip, 2 hrs was the time spent on the job. Dump fee was $30.00. I charge $125.00/hr for myself and another employee with equipment doing this type of work.

    As for his payment history. He has always payed his bills in partial payments over the last 2 seasons and most monthly invoices are $180.00. I don't mean to judge someone by the size of the house or whatever. I just wonder if he pays the auto loans and home lender this way. I doubt it. He just had a new addition put on his house and the basement finished this past year. Am I supposed to take the shaft for his overspending if thats the case?

    I had one other customer start making partial payments to me in the 99 season. Work completed Sept. thru Nov. was not payed for in full until Feb. At the start of 2000 I told her I would not work for her if she had to make partial payments. She complained, until I asked her if she bought food at the local store and only payed for half her groceries before she walked out of the store. I then asked her that if her daughter took a job and was only recieving partial paychecks for her 40hr/ week job. Would she tell her daughter to stay with that company? She paused and said she understood and since that converstion I have not had any problems with her, she turned out to be one of my best customers.
    I would be fine with partial payments if I got my money within the 30 days. Dragging out payments as new invoices come in and new work is ordered is not being responsible in my opinion.


    Chris
     
  9. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,354

    You may be at a pivotal point w this customer.
    If you handle it right it could provide
    a lot of money over the years.Talk sense
    w him and give him a chance to think he
    made decision to keep his yd right.
    This is making it sound simple but its
    an opportunity for you to gain a valuable skill.
    Ive never made any money dealing w customers
    in anger.You may not keep him but i gurantee
    gaining this skill will make a lot of difference.
    Dont mean to preach brother .Lets all turn to
    hym 13, oh forgot myself.by
     
  10. Rob

    Rob LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    The thing that strikes me immediately is that this guy has been a customer of yours for three years. I'm guessing that in the previous two years you have also done his fall cleanup. Presuming this has been your pricing structure with the customer for the previous two years work, I don't see why an estimate would have been needed and I don't see why this guy would suddenly start complaining about the prices you've been charging him all along. It sounds to me like you need to speak with this customer (when he's calmer) and get a little more info about his situation and relationship with your service.

    Depending on other history with him, I might reconsider dropping him until you speak with him further.

    Just my .02

    Rob
     

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